Ex-principal jailed for misappropriating $16,000 from childcare centre

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - A childcare centre principal was jailed for 12 weeks for misappropriating more than $16,000 in school fees from the centre.

Hamidah Muhammad, 49, who was the principal of Star Learners @ Bishan Central, pleaded guilty to a charge for criminal breach of trust on Tuesday (Jan 7).

As the principal, she was entrusted with the fees paid by parents to the childcare centre. She tendered her resignation on June 28, 2018, and was supposed to work with the incoming principal and management to hand over the operations but did not do so.

The cluster principal of Star Learners Group and the management team then checked through the centre's accounts following Hamidah's resignation and found numerous discrepancies.

The cluster principal then lodged a police report stating that Hamidah had been misappropriating the centre's funds.

Further investigations found that from Oct 31, 2017, to July 11, 2018, she had misappropriated the fees paid by eight parents and the centre's float money.

SUPPLIES

The float money, which amounted to about $1,500, was meant for buying supplies for the children and the childcare centre.

The total sum was about $16,700, and Hamidah has made full restitution.

 
 
 
 

Deputy Public Prosecutor Samyata Ravindran urged the court to jail her for three months and said the case involved a large sum that was misappropriated over a prolonged period.

But Hamidah's lawyer Kum Guo Rong asked the court for either a fine of $10,000, or the fine with four weeks' jail, or a jail term of nine weeks.

He told the court that the accused had a special needs child, and it was thus a special circumstance that warranted an adjusted sentence.

But the prosecution disagreed, revealing that Hamidah had four other children. The oldest was already 27, and the child would be looked after.

District Judge Luke Tan disagreed that a much lighter sentence was warranted but allowed Hamidah to defer her sentence for a week to settle her personal affairs at home. She is expected to surrender herself to begin serving her sentence on Jan 14.